I was raised to be a strong, black woman who could handle her own emotions -- not ask someone to help me sort them out. How dare I need treatment for feeling worthless and for being bullied when I come from a lineage of ancestors who used strength and endurance as a way to survive?
In the fuzzy arithmetic of their moral equivocation, flag pins matter, firearms matter, border patrols matter, but black and brown lives don't matter unless they can be leveraged for some self-serving political purpose
My protest started by recoloring the Confederate flag black, red and green -- the colors of black nationalism. This was my way of arresting my own anxiety and fear of black erasure, both personal and collective.
Right now, too many Americans are working long days for less pay than they deserve. That's partly because we've failed to update overtime regulations for years -- and an exemption meant for highly paid, white collar employees now leaves out workers making as little as $23,660 a year -- no matter how many hours they work.
The count of black churches in the South that have been torched is not the six that have been burned since the massacre of nine blacks at Charleston's Emmanuel AME Church, but 37. The church burnings occurred in a period of not two weeks but over 18 months.
The best way to commit to our causes is to understand how they are connected to others. In that way, we realize that our liberations are inseparably linked to the liberation of others. If your advocacy is not rooted in intersectionality, it doesn't take much for others to surmise that you're merely pursuing your privilege, not equality.
President Barack Obama's eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney unified nearly all Americans with a call to equal justice that no preceding generation had any realistic expectation to achieve. It was a moment desperately imagined by the voters who supported him in 2008 and 2012.
There's an important question being left out of the furor over charges that Rachel Dolezal, the former head of the NAACP's Spokane chapter, has been "lying" about her race: How can you lie about something that doesn't have any objective truth to it in the first place?
The physical endangerment that intense hostility toward a group can produce is particularly unsettling when you consider the breadth of damage it can have on how the targeted group thinks about their safety.
I just can't vibe with one aspect of my existence being uplifted while another piece is reminded of its inhumanity every single day. I can't focus on something like marriage, or living boldly and proudly, when I need to focus on keeping myself and those like me alive.
When you think of all the "black people who are so offended and just like to complain," picture my face. Picture the face of your black friends. Think of the hurt in my heart and the tears I cry when I feel like I can do everything right but still be seen as "inferior" because of my skin color.
So I pose this question: Why is a flag that represents the army that fought and lost (thankfully) to protect slavery flown and honored by state governments in America? There's no good reason. And that is why it's time to take down the flag.
With millions witnessing an abundance of publicized killings of unarmed black men by police, along with several racially charged shootings claiming headlines across the country -- the national discourse around racism has expanded to incorporate the need for stronger gun control laws.
They are all under 30 years old and, despite their age, have attained world-class status in their fields, as well as riches, fame and respect.
Count down the Top 9 Young Lions who are making black history today and for many years to come.
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Given that it's Black History Month, let's talk about the relationship between black philanthropy and black activism. Do you see a connection in history?
Oh definitely. I was reading a book recently about African American philanthropy and this connection to black activism. The roosts of black philanthropy were actually sparked as a reaction to slavery. Our forefathers pooled their resources to help slaves gain freedom, and also to support them once they became free. There were so many mutual aid societies, churches and schools that were established with those funds. When you look at black history, it is a lot of black philanthropy. People always talk about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, but a lot of people don't know that she pooled her resources with others' to establish homes and provide education after slaves became free. So it wasn't just about getting people free. She also provided those services to help people get where they needed to be.
Is Black History Month still a useful and purposeful way to celebrate our achievements?
I don't think it's bad. I think it's important and is needed. But I would like to see more of a spotlight on our living legends, people who are making history that are still living. We always seem to focus on the past. But there are so many people who are still living. We could tap into their wisdom, they could talk to youth. Like Ruth Simmons, the first black president of Brown University, and the surviving Tuskegee Airmen. We just need to broaden our scope and bring to light these hidden gems.
What is your favorite black philanthropy and who would you say is the biggest black philanthropist of all time?
I'm going to be biased because I have my own charity! My favorite black organization is mine. I founded a giving circle in 2005, which is a group of individuals who pool their monies for a given cause. It's called The Black Benefactors. We just gave out our first grants recently totaling $10,000, so I'm really, really excited, because it's been almost five long years in the making. I'm also happy to say that all the organizations that we funded are African American-led. And even though we are called The Black Benefactors, people think you have to be black to join – not true! We have members of different races.
[In terms of my favorite black philanthropist of all time], I'm not going to say a celebrity. Oseola McCarty was a woman who saved up her money for years and when she passed away she left $150,000 [to the University of Southern Mississippi] for students to further their education. She is probably the most inspirational, because she showed that you do not have to be rich in order to give back to your community. She saved up her money for years, and she did not tell anyone. She worked washing clothes. Her gift shocked everybody. That's how passionate she was about helping students.
Then there are also lesser known, but prominent, African Americans like Eddie and Sylvia Brown. Eddie Brown has donated $5 million to the Baltimore public school system [to help African American students]. At the Maryland Institute College of Art this African American couple has a building in their name – The Eddie and Sylvia Brown Center. They donated $7 million to this organization.
You profile many celebrities on Black Gives Back. Do you have a favorite story of working with a celebrity or their organization?
Now, Kanye catches a lot of flack. But I will say that when I met the staff of his foundation, they are awesome people who know their stuff. When I talked to Kanye's mother briefly before she passed, I asked her "how did you select the people to run your organization." And she said, even before Kanye became famous, he wanted to give back. He was always concerned about when they were going to give back.
The singer Mya has a foundation that is a camp for kids in DC. I went to one of their year-end celebrations. You can really tell that Mya loves what she does with the kids and is very passionate about her foundation.
What do you see as the connection between black philanthropy and our future as a community?
Black philanthropy is essential for our future. It is being predicted that by 2050 communities of color with constitute over half of the population. We definitely need to ensure now that we will have resources available for us. It's still unfortunately the case that many organizations that primarily serve African American communities are headed by whites who are not connected to communities of color. Very few of the major foundations have people of color on their boards. One that does is Target. Laysha Ward is the head of their philanthropic efforts. So we do have some that are in those very important positions. We just need to support the people and organizations in place now, and make sure that we are in control of the funds that will serve our community.
What is the connection between giving and greatness?
There is definitely a connection between giving and greatness. It's even in the Bible. Everybody has something to give. Even if you don't have money, you can use your talents. Whatever you're good at, you can use that to benefit an organization. Just using whatever you have to help others who are less fortunate than you makes you a great person. When you give, it just makes you feel better. And when you give, you will get it back.
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